Running Teleconferences

Chairing Effective Phone Meetings

Not a sign of a successful teleconference!

© iStockphoto

Have you ever attended a teleconference that was frustrating and unproductive? You probably know how many things can go wrong – the technology is confusing or inadequate, there are too many people on the call, you don't know who else is on the phone, mute buttons click on and off, new people enter the call and interrupt the meeting, and people talk over one-another.

With all this confusion, there's often a lack of clarity and closure on any issue, all of which reduces the effectiveness of this potentially invaluable – travel-time- and environment-saving – communications tool.

In a face-to-face meeting, we often rely on "body language" and other visual tools to help us manage participants. But these don't exist in a teleconference, so it can be easy for the chair to seem disorganized and lose control, or otherwise cause the experience to be less than satisfactory. This is irritating for all involved, and it's clearly frustrating when these failures mean that the meeting fails to achieve its objectives.

So, what can you do to ensure that the teleconferences you manage are productive and effective?

Our article on Running Effective Meetings   gives simple rules and skills for running an in-person meeting. You'll need the same skills to run a teleconference, but you may have to emphasize or slightly change some areas.

Making the Teleconference Effective

When you set up a teleconference, follow two general rules:

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